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Packers 2023 Roster Prediction: Rookies lead the way for 4-man tight end group

A pair of vets and a pair of rookies get the call for the Packers at tight end this year.

Syndication: PackersNews USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK

Perhaps no single position on the Green Bay Packers’ roster — save for the quarterback spot — changed over as much during the 2023 offseason as the tight end group. A unit that featured Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis as the top two options last season saw both of them leave in free agency, with Tonyan headed to Chicago and Lewis remaining on the market.

Enter a pair of rookies, as the Packers invested heavily in this room in the 2023 NFL Draft. Doubling down on tight ends in rounds two and three was a surprising strategy, but it could well pay dividends over the next several years, with the two players having a chance to dominate 12 and 22 offensive personnel groupings for Matt LaFleur.

In addition to the two young, exciting prospects, the Packers also have a handful of complementary players that can play varied roles across the lineup. Still, with just six players on the roster and the position and the team seemingly set to carry four on the opening roster, there is likely a slim pathway for a couple of players to make the team in camp.

Here’s our best guess at how the tight end group shakes out after final cuts bring the Packers’ roster down to 53 in late August.

Starter: Luke Musgrave

The first of two second-round draft picks by the Packers this season, Musgrave offers the team a fascinating option as a receiver. At 6-foot-6 and 253 pounds, he promises to be a dangerous weapon up the seam, and his speed has already drawn rave reviews during spring practices. Simply put, Musgrave is the most athletic tight end prospect the Packers have had in decades — if not ever — and he has the frame to develop as a blocker.

However, the latter is a concern for the rookie, at least initially. Largely viewed as a detached tight end rather than a more conventional in-line player, Musgrave will likely be asked to provide more chip blocks than straight-on, power blocking in the run game. Still, the Packers seem to believe that he can develop into an all-around player at the position, and he should get some chances at the in-line Y position.

Backups: Josiah Deguara, Tucker Kraft, Tyler Davis

While Musgrave is more of a downfield receiving threat, Kraft — the Packers’ third-rounder — looks like the well-rounded, do-it-all tight end. He’s dangerous in space with the ball in his hands, but he is also a punishing blocker. These two should be intriguing complements to one another for years to come.

Filling out the group is a fellow third-rounder in Deguara, who heads into the final year of his rookie contract, and core special teamer Tyler Davis. Deguara’s best work in the NFL has come as a wing or fullback, and he will probably continue to play there with the rookie additions. Davis’ impact on offense is not felt frequently; he played only 174 snaps on offense last season but doubled that number on special teams (346).

Released: Austin Allen, Camren McDonald

This group seems too set in stone for either of these two young players to carve out a viable role on the opening roster. However, Allen is a great athlete and is a massive human at 6-foot-8 and 253 pounds and he could be an interesting practice squad stash.